Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Places and Things I Learned About Today with Google Earth and Wikipedia

All this started because i was on Saila's blog and one of her friends made a joke about Nuorgam, which i had no clue until i checked wikipedia, is the northern most point of Finland. I love learning! Here are some other things i learned about today.

  • The Islands of Tristan da Cunha - A group of remote British Islands in the way south Atlantic with a little under 300 people who all speak English. They also have a very informative (if not a little outdated) website here. They also just got TV in 2001.
  • Svalbard - The northern most part of the Kingdom of Norway, it's an archipeligo about 700 miles away from the North Pole (that's not very far). Home of the World's most northern ATM machine.
  • Bouvet Island - The southern most part of the Kingdom of Norway, which is 1400 miles away from Tristan da Cunha TO THE SOUTH. It's like almost to Antarctica! Norway's badass.
  • Anything on The World's Most Northern page of Wikipedia.
  • Olavinlinna in Savonlinna, Finland - A medieval castle that's thr home of the Savonlinna Opera Festival every summer. I want to go!
  • Kaffeklubben Island (The Coffee Club Island) - The most northerly piece of land (pretty much) on Earth has to do with coffee! Awesome!
  • Finlandization - def: "the influence that one powerful country may have on the policies of a smaller neighboring country"

I'd post more, but it's 5 and that's closing time here at the slide library, so i'm going home.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Representin' the S.U.O.M.I.

Just thought i'd share this with you. I'm such a nerd when it comes to Finland, my Halo 3 character has a Finnish flag on its shoulder. Obviously, the flag could be more of a latin cross than a greek cross, but that's the best i could do. It's good right?! I think it's great. I know, i'm kind of a loser....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Believe this.

I'm probably not likely to admit this blog exists in a sober state, so here you have it.......

Ben Exhale + Alcohol = Music Poignancy/

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In my dreams... literally.

Last night, or maybe morning... like the time of morning where you're waking up, but still sleeping... In any case, around that time i had a Finland dream. Somehow, i had come into exactly a million dollars. Not around a million, exactly a million. I think i had helped invent something, not sure though. I think it was something like in The Jerk where Steve Martin's character gets a lot of money for inventing the Opti-Grab. Something like that.

So i'd gotten a million dollars so, of course, i moved to Finland. However, even though i had a million dollars, i didn't get my own place. Instead i was staying on Saila's couch in her new apartment. I was casually looking for jobs, but not really trying hard, because i didn't really have to work. And that's all i remember.

Overall, very pleasant, but very weird. I hope in my dream i was at least helping Saila pay bills. That's kind of freeloading of me...

*sigh* I miss Finland.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The RoBOOSTo Adventure!

So as i mentioned in the last post, Danielle and i competed in the SERBC this year. At this event there were a few sponsor booths that had random stuff at them. One booth (seen above), which i can't even remember who it was for, had this wonderful item called RoBOOSTo, which Danielle and i both received samples of. Apparently, it's "A Super Caffeinated Coffee Experience!" (Their exclamation mark, not mine.) I've been afraid it is thus far, but this morning i woke up, and decided to bring the packet to Octane and share the experience with my co-workers who were having a slow Sunday morning. And also to document it with pictures. And then post about on here...

Step 1 of the instructions on the packet say, "Get a bottle of water and take a swig!" (Their exclamation point, not mine.) So i got a bottled water and took a swig. Right before i started to read step 2 (which is "Pour entire contents of packet into bottle."), i saw a section of the instructions that said "Choose Your Strength Level." Apparently a 16.9 oz. bottle is 'Safe', which is what we had. That's no good, if we're truly going to experience the RoBOOSTo then we don't want to do it half assed. A 12 oz. bottle is 'Strong', but we need the maximum, which according to the packet is an 8 oz. bottle, which is......'Intense'. We don't have an 8 oz. bottle water, but we DO have 10 oz. Ginger Ale bottles.

In my excitement, i dumped the Ginger Ale bottle down the drain. As i was pouring it down the sink Jason said, "I would have drank that." Kind of wasteful of me. I felt bad...

Anyways, i rinsed out the Ginger Ale bottle well and poured the bottled water into it leaving a significant amount of room. In my mind i saw it as 8 ounces minus a swig. Well, whether it was or not....

it wasn't enough room for the RoBOOSTo podwer. Jason got a funnel and everything, and we still had overflow problems. My conclusion, if you're going to go the 'Intense' route on the RoBOOSTo, take about 3 swigs out of an 8 oz. bottle, and that should leave you enough room. But as i'm pretty sure we're never going to do this again, that conclusion is pointless.

After i finally got most of the contents of the packet into the bottle, i proceeded to step 3, "Shake bottle well, drink and get Boosted!" (Their exclamation point, not mine.) While i was shaking the hell out of this bottle for a good 5 minutes, M'lissa thought it would be funny to make lines out of the RoBOOSTo powder that had spilled everywhere. I agreed with M'lissa that it was funny, however, we both decided it would not be funny to snort the lines............... and the thought of that just made me twitch.

As shot glasses are the perfect sampling cup for this kind of thing, we poured some of the 'Intense' RoBOOSTo mixture into 5 shot glasses for M'lissa, Jason, and I, and also Larisa and Erin, who were in the kitchen.

While we were drinking out of shot glasses, we didn't shoot it, we sipped on it. This would have been brutal to shoot, or so we thought. Both Larisa and i got nice chunks of powder in our first sips, which needless to say, was gross.

In all honesty, though, the general consensus was two things: 1) While it wasn't good, it wasn't as horrible as we thought it was going to be, and 2) for being 'Intense' it was pretty non-intense. It tasted like watered down Coffee Coolant (which is Octane blended coffee beverage), not "the Flavor of a Traditional Italian Coffee Latte" as was advertised. Overall, pretty anti-climactic. However, it was a fun little experiment. And my curiosity is satisfied finally.

As M'lissa said, which sums up everything quite nicely, "I feel RoBUSTed."

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Trails of Barista-hood

I want to tell a bit of a barista horror story that happened to me a few days ago, but first i have to give a little preface. About 2 weeks ago my co-worker Danielle and I competed in the SERBC (Southeast Regional Barista Competition). It was for both of us our first competitions, and shockingly enough we did really well. And by really well i mean freaking amazing. We got second and third! Part of the reason we did so well was because we practiced our asses off, but also because we had amazing coaches. My coach was Octane's very own beloved coffee boss, M'lissa (seen with me above) and Danielle's was M'lissa's boyfriend and beloved representative of our roasters, Counter Culture, Chris. We practiced together a lot though, so really both Chris and M'lissa were both Danielle and I's coaches. Another reason we did well was because with one of new things Octane is doing to step our quality and become a bad ass coffeeshop is with a certification process M'lissa designed that all barista's who want to work on the espresso machine have to complete. You can read about this awesome certification on M'lissa's blog. Danielle and I (and JT, though he didn't compete this year) passed all three parts before we left for competition.

I say all this to say that while i admit i have a great deal to learn about coffee and i'm always looking for ways to improve, at the same time i know what i'm doing. I know how to make a pretty decent espresso drink. I'm pretty confident 2nd place in the SERBC doesn't happen by a fluke.

The thing about working in a coffee shop, though, is that a lot of people don't care if you've won an award. Don't get me wrong, a lot of people do, and Octane's customers, especially our regulars, are some of the best customers in the world and we love them all, and nothing makes me happier than working hard to make them an awesome drink. But a lot people just aren't that into it their coffee, which is totally okay. That's not my job. My job is to make them a drink that they like.

The story behind this whole post is that on Halloween, i was working with Gavin, and a very nice gentleman came in and ordered and espresso and said he also wanted something else. He looked at the menu and ordered and macchiato, which at Octane (and traditionally) is espresso with a little bit of steamed milk on top. I politely made sure that's what he wanted, as i was confused why he would want an espresso AND macchiato. Anyways, i made him his espresso first, as i assumed he would want to sip on it while i made him his other drink. I made the espresso, set it down in front of him. He smiled and then waited for me to finish his other drink. After i made it, he took both outside.

Now espresso starts to go bad pretty quickly after it's made. I always get a little nervous when people don't drink it right away. As it turns out, the reason he waited was because it was for someone else. The reason i know this is because about 2 minutes after he went outside a woman came back inside, set the espresso down, and proceed to very aggressively tell me how horrible the espresso was and if she could get something else. Now i've dealt with my fair share of upset customers in my day, but the thing that was different about this particular one was her complaint. She was upset specifically at the TASTE of an ESPRESSO. There's no milk or syrup to change flavors in an espresso. You're skill is exposed, there's nothing to hide behind. I proceed to ask her what was wrong with it and if it was too bitter or something, so i could fix it. She said, and i quote, "Bitter doesn't even begin to describe it."

Wow. At this point, i'm absolutely mortified. I tell her i must have made some mistake and practically beg her to let me make her another espresso. Sensing how badly my feelings are hurt, she proceeds to blame the beans and that she'll just have a macchiato. I make her another espresso really wanting to make things right, but she doesn't even touch it. After i make her macchiato, she takes it outside, and i receive no more feedback.

I tried the espresso i made her, since she didn't touch it. It wasn't the "God shot" but it was fine. First off, the espresso she got sat for a way too long because the guy didn't know any better. Second, it was the Toscano blend, and it can have those high notes it. Third, it was still really fresh and had some gasiness to it. Fourth, i think she was in a bad mood and felt the need to be really dramatic.

Anyways, even though there was a logical explanation for it all, my confidence was significantly weakened. When something that i had a little bit of pride in was so brutally spoken of, part of me wanted to say something to effect of, "Look, lady, you're being irrational. LOOK AT THE TROPHIES. I know what i'm doing!" but thankfully i didn't. That would have done way more harm than good, obviously.

And thanks to few compliments i received yesterday, my confidence is back.

The moral of this story is that being a barista isn't as easy as it looks in the movies...

Friday, November 2, 2007


Last night, i must have had 100 dreams. I don't know what brought on this onslaught, but it was interesting. I can't remember most of them, just bits and pieces.

I remember there was one where i had a piece of wood that turned into a guitar. But it had plastic strings and the base somehow had a screen on it. I don't know where the pickups were supposed to be.

I remember also i had the sweetest espresso i've ever had. It wasn't warm, which was weird, but there was absolutely no remote hint of bitterness. I don't remember if i was the one to make it or not. I remember thinking how awesome it was that this espresso was so sweet without any sugar being added to it, but then i also remember thinking i could have really used some more brightness to it. It was a little too sweet.

I also had a Finland dream in there too. It was one of the more blurry ones. Somehow it involved a Finnish flag. I think Saila and Sini may have been in it too.... i can't remember....

Dream are weird...